Each week I contribute an article to “Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder” website expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. This week I shared a recipe for Whole Wheat Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Brown Butter, and Walnuts. Here is the original article:
This week, La Domestique is dedicated to Brussels sprouts, which are like tiny cabbages growing in clusters along a tall, sturdy stalk. Here in Colorado, the weather has been perfect for growing Brussels sprouts, with a couple of plentiful snows and crisp, chilly nights balanced by sunny days. Brussels sprouts come into season in November, when the small buds develop a flavor that’s perfectly sweet and a texture that’s crisp yet still delicate. In the marketplace, select bright green specimens with tight heads, preferably still on the stalk. Brussels sprouts are not meant for storage, so use them within 3 days or you’ll find their flavor intensified and sulfurous. I like to keep the buds (unwashed) in a sealed plastic bag in the vegetable crisper until I’m ready to use them. In Chez Panisse Vegetables, Alice Waters writes that cooking Brussels sprouts quickly ensures the best flavor. The quickest method for cooking Brussels sprouts is to separate the delicate leaves and sauté them in a hot pan.
One of my favorite ways to cook with Brussels sprouts is inspired by Martha Stewart’s recipe for Fettuccine with Brussels Sprout Leaves, Brown Butter, and Toasted Walnuts from her cookbook, The New Classics. Making brown butter is an extra step that may seem intimidating, but it elevates a simple pasta dish to something special. Though it doesn’t take much time, the task requires careful monitoring of heat and constant attention or you’ll end up with burnt butter. Simply melt unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat and watch as it turns brown, giving off a pleasant, nutty aroma. Strain off the solids (discard them) and set the golden liquid aside to flavor the finished dish. Delicate Brussels sprout leaves are then sautéed in butter with shallots, garlic, and thyme. I toss some cooked whole wheat pasta into the pan because I like the hearty, wholesome flavor it brings. To finish the dish, drizzle over the luxurious browned butter and a sprinkling of toasted walnuts. Use a microplane to grate a handful of Parmesan or Pecorino atop the pasta and you’ve got a beautiful combination of salty cheese, rich butter, sweet Brussels sprout leaves, and toasted nuts.
Recipe for Whole Wheat Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Brown Butter, and Walnuts
16 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
½ cup (1 stick) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup walnuts
2 shallots, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Toast the walnuts. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and bake them in the oven until fragrant, 10 minutes. Pour the toasted nuts onto a plate to cool and set them aside. Once the walnuts are cool, coarsely chop them.
Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the whole wheat pasta until just tender, according to package directions. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and toss with 1 tablespoon butter. Cover and keep warm while you continue with the recipe.
While the pasta cooks, make the brown butter. Heat 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Monitor the heat carefully so the butter does not burn, but instead turns a dark, golden brown while the white solids float to the top. In less than 8 minutes, the butter should have a nice nutty aroma. Remove the brown butter from the heat, strain it, and discard the solids. Set the brown butter aside.
Prepare the Brussels sprouts by separating the leaves. Cut off the base of the bud, then slice vertically through the top of the Brussels sprout, cutting it in half. Peel away the tender leaves, discarding the hard core. Rinse the leaves and pat them dry.
Cook the Brussels sprouts. Heat the last 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Once the butter melts, add the shallots and garlic and cook for a minute to soften. Toss in the Brussels sprouts leaves and thyme. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook until the leaves are bright green and tender, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add the pasta to the pan and pour over the brown butter. Toss the pasta well and heat through, adding more salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the pasta to a serving platter and garnish with walnuts. Serve family style with Parmesan at the table.